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Arnold Schoenberg was from from Vienna but later moved to Los Angeles, with stops in Berlin, Paris, Boston and New York in between. Caz Dolowicz was from Sands Street, but later moved to Bay Ridge, with a few years in Crown Heights, Flatbush and Marine Park in between. Arnold Schoenberg was born Jewish in 1874, converted to Protestant Christianity in 1898 and back to Judaism in 1933. Caz Dolowicz was born Catholic in 1923, although his first wife was a Lutheran from Finntown named Valpuri and everyone just called her Val. The first time they came together (far more luck and instinct than any learned technique) she said it felt like “Sibelius’ 4th symphony.” Caz took that as a compliment, though at the time he listened mostly to jazz, never to any goddamn preachers, not even the good ones. Val was irreligious also, that wasn’t the problem, but the Cold War made her irritable and Caz didn’t stick around to see her “Zen phase.” (Caz had one too but that came later, and Valpuri lived in Big Sur then, friends with Henry Miller and everything.) Not many people know Arnold Schoenberg wrote Christmas music but it’s true: Weihnachtsmusik (1921), an arrangement of the hymn “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,” for two violins, violoncello, harmonium and piano. In 1947, Schoenberg composed “A Survivor In Warsaw,” with text by himself. Caz wonders, still, if Charles Reznikoff (greatest Brooklyn poet of the 20th century) ever heard it?

His mother put Caz to bed, and he fell asleep, thinking of Santa, and electric trains, except that his mother said that electric trains only went to boys in the country because in the city they had the subway. It must be true, none of his friends had trains. He woke up in the night, and heard a noise in the living room, sneaked to the door to catch Santa, and saw his mother placing a little metal pig, dressed in a sailor suit, under the tree. The pig had a drum, and then he saw his mother sit on the couch and begin to cry. He wondered why the tree didn’t have any lights, and he wondered why his mother had put the pig under the tree— he hadn’t asked for a pig, that was for babies. And why was she crying? Well, Santa wasn’t here yet. In the morning the pig stared at him, and he picked it up, wound it with the key sticking out of its blue jumper. He put it down, and it bounced and clattered on the linoleum spastically, pounding on the tin drum. He couldn’t understand why he had this pig, and why Santa hadn’t come after all… he hadn’t come, because his mother had put the pig under the tree. And why was she crying? The pig skittered to a stop and fell over, and he saw his mother in the doorway, do you like your present, son? Yes, he said, winding it up again. It would take him a long time to figure this out. Who wants a toy pig?

Caz Dolowicz was born on Sands Street in 1923. Caz’s second wife, Estelle, a jazz singer, liked George Gershwin a lot, as did Arnold Schoenberg.

PS 191 = Paul Robeson Elementary School, Brooklyn: Happy Hannukah Bitches!

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